Well, for starters, stretching can help you feel good. And for us, that’s reason enough since self care is so important.
A regular stretching routine also offers many benefits ranging from improved flexibility to stressing less. So, let’s take a deep dive into the many benefits of stretching daily.
The four types of exercise that should be included in a healthy workout routine are flexibility exercises (stretching), strength training, balance, and endurance. Flexibility exercises increase your range of motion by making your soft tissues, such as muscles and ligaments, longer by decreasing stiffness.
8 Benefits Of Stretching Daily
1. Stretching Increases Your Flexibility and Range of Motion
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is very important for your overall health since flexibility is what allows your tissues and joints to move comfortably through full ranges of motion. Research has shown that both static and dynamic stretching can improve your range of motion. However, in order to improve your range of motion long-term, you need to stretch at least five to six days a week.
2. Stretching Reduces Your Risk Of Injury During Exercise And Improves Performance
Warming up properly before a workout can help reduce your risk of injury. Your warm up routine should include dynamic stretches since dynamic stretching helps to warm up your muscles, joints, and tendons, and temporarily increases your range of motion. Warming up not only helps your heart and lungs ease into the activity that you’re about to do, but it also primes your nervous system for the upcoming stress that it’s about to experience. Research has shown that performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activity can help to prepare your muscles for the activity, and improve your performance during your workout sessions.
3. Stretching Can Help You Gain Strength
While you won’t gain strength simply from stretching, you will increase your range of motion, which will then allow you to activate more muscle when you’re working out. By being able to activate more muscle thanks to increased flexibility, you’ll be able to lift more weight during strength training sessions. Over time, this will help to make you stronger.
4. Stretching Relieves Stress And Can Decrease Tension Headaches
Headaches, neck and shoulder tension, dizziness, fatigue, and poor sleep can all be a result of stress overload. While a certain amount of stress is necessary to deal with difficult situations in our daily lives, if we stay in a high state of stress for too long it can be damaging for our health. Focusing on mindfulness and meditation exercises while you stretch will give your mind a much-needed mental break. So, add slow, controlled, deep breathing to your stretches to help put you and your mind at ease. Stretching, in addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches, too.
5. Stretching Improves Posture And Helps Prevent Everyday Aches and Pains
All of us who have been working from home lately have learned the importance of good posture. On days that our posture is poor, we can feel the aches and pains all over our body letting us know. Poor posture is a common contributor to neck and back pain and 50% to 80% of Americans complain of back pain during their lifetime. While an ergonomic WFH office setup is probably the most important factor in getting us through the workday without pain, regular stretching may help improve our posture, too. In fact, a study found that a combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment.
6. Stretching Increases Blood Flow To Your Muscles
A study determined that regular stretching may improve your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your post-workout recovery time and reduce muscle soreness. The best part is that you only need to stretch for a few minutes to increase your blood flow throughout your entire body, including your brain. So, if you need a pick-me-up during any point of your day, a stretch break can wake you up and help you feel less sluggish.
7. Stretching Post-Workout Can Calm You And Your Body Down
Cooling down after an exercise session will help to lower your heart rate and calm your breathing. Your cool down routine should include static stretches combined with deep breathing to calm your body. Stretching after a workout can also increase blood flow, boost oxygen levels, help deliver nutrients to your body and your muscles, and help aid with the recovery process.
8. Stretching Can Make Your Daily Activities Go A Whole Lot Smoother
Any parent who has little ones that like to be picked up knows the importance of flexibility and strength, especially as your children or pets get older and become heavier. The more pliable your connective tissue and muscles are, the easier your day-to-day activities will be. So, if you want to get through your day with ease and grace, prioritize your daily stretching routine.
The Right Way To Stretch
Begin With A Warm Up: The best time to do stretching exercises is when your muscles are warmed up and ready to go since stretching cold muscles can lead to injury. So, before you begin any exercise routine make sure to warm up your body first. Warming up will increase your heart rate and respiratory rate, increase your muscle temperature, boost the amount of blood and oxygen delivered to your muscles, and prepare your body for a workout. To warm up, do five to 10 minutes of easy walking or light jogging.
Make Sure To Include Dynamic Stretching As Part Of Your Warm Up Routine: Your warm up routine should include dynamic stretching since this type of stretching involves actively moving your joints and muscles through a full range of motion in order to prepare your body for the workout that you’re about to do. Some dynamic stretches that you can do as part of your warm up are hip circles, leg swings, arm circles, walking lunges, spinal rotations, and high knees.
Finish Off Your Exercise Session With A Cool Down: After an exercise session, you need to slow your body back down. Cooling down with five to 10 minutes of gentle movement and stretching will help your body recover post-workout. Cooling down at the end of a workout will help to slow your heart rate and breathing, reduce your chance of feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and allow you to relax and feel the benefits of your workout.
Incorporate Static Stretching Into Your Cool Down Routine: To help prevent injury, static stretches should be used as part of your post-workout cool down routine. Static stretching is an effective way to increase flexibility as it requires you to move a muscle as far as it can go without feeling any pain. Typically, you should hold static stretches for 20 to 45 seconds. Some examples of static stretches are the hamstring stretch, the standing quadriceps stretch, the posterior capsule stretch, and the seated butterfly stretch.
General Tips To Keep Stretching Safe: Concentrate your stretches on major muscle groups, focus on having equal flexibility side to side, stretch in a smooth movement (without bouncing), and don’t try to feel pain when you’re stretching. Tension while you’re stretching is fine, but if you experience pain during a stretch, you’ve pushed too far and need to back off. And make sure to stretch on a regular basis in order to achieve the maximum benefits of stretching.
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